Forty years of IVF

I mentioned in a recent blog post (here) that I was intending to re-post some of the Editorials I have written for The Biochemist over the previous two years. Here is the first, from June 2018, in which I reflected on forty years of IVF in the introduction to an issue on Fertility.
The Editorial can be found here.
The full issue on Fertility can be found here.
And the text is also reproduced below
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One of the unsettling aspects of growing older is the realization that events which occurred within your own lifetime are considered by others to be history. This experience struck me for the first time when one of my children was studying the fall of the Berlin Wall for their GCSE course.

2018 marks the 40th birthday of Louise Brown, the first baby produced by IVF (in vitro fertilization). For many readers of The Biochemist this pre-dates their own birth, and definitely falls into the category of history. In 1978, I was a schoolboy who hadn’t quite qualified for long trousers. I was sufficiently news-savvy to appreciate that a significant breakthrough had occurred but without being clear on the details. (In truth, I rather suspect this caveat could also have been applied to my understanding of the more traditional route to conception). In the intervening period, IVF has become the cornerstone of a broader array of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), some of which are discussed in more detail in articles in this issue.  Continue reading

Ruminating on my ruminations

BiochemistMagHomepageBoxImgAs the articles for the December 2019 issue of The Biochemist start to loiter in my inbox, I realise that we must therefore approaching the second anniversary of my taking over as Science Editor for the magazine. Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun!

It is a huge honour to have a big hand in production of this Biochemical Society publication. The Biochemist is intentionally a magazine, as opposed to a journal, and this influences the style and depth of the contents. It is hoped that all of the pieces are accessible to an undergraduate biochemist but with content that will be of interest to more seasoned academics, possibly introducing them to sub-fields of molecular bioscience that are outside their usual area of expertise. Each issue has themed features in the “front half”. In the past couple of years we’ve looked at:

  • Biomaterials;
  • Molecular Motors;
  • Fertility;
  • Food Production;
  • Molecular Biology of the Brain;
  • Immunology;
  • Biophysics;
  • Synthetic Biology;
  • Elements in Biochemistry;
  • Artificial Intelligence (forthcoming);
  • Venoms and Toxins (forthcoming)

Those who have done a quick tally will recognise that this equates to six issues per year, which represents quite an undertaking. My role as Science Editor includes: chairing the Editorial Board which, amongst other things, decides on the themes for the year’s issues; suggesting potential authors; reviewing and editing papers.

Continue reading

More plaudits for Where Science and Ethics Meet

The February edition of The Biochemist (magazine of the Biochemical Society) included another very positive review of our book Where Science and Ethics Meet: Dilemmas at the frontiers of medicine and biology. The review notes that “Willmott and Macip fulfil their promise of providing epistemologically balanced tools to the reader” and concludes that the book “certainly represents a valuable tool for teaching ethics at the undergraduate level and for engaging a wider audience in the challenges arising from scientific and biotechnical developments” which is gratifying since this was exactly our ambition in writing the book.

review-of-where-science-and-ethics-meet-biochemist_feb2017

Want to edit The Biochemist?

Teams of students have until 15th December to enter the competition (click image for more details)

The Biochemist is the magazine of the Biochemical Society. It carries a variety of interesting articles on molecular bioscience in themed issues, for example: poisons and antidotes, new types of microscopyscience and the media, and ethics (access to these articles is free, but you may be required to give an e-mail address the first time you visit). I think it is an excellent publication (conflict of interest declaration: I am on the editorial board).

The October 2010 edition on epigenetics was edited by a team of students from Oxford University who were picked from a short-list in an open competition. They’ve done such a good job that the competition is running again now, with the chance to edit the October 2011 edition. Teams of undergraduates, postgraduates and/or postdocs are invited to propose a theme for the magazine and suggest some topics that would be included. It is worth avoiding topics that have been covered recently or are to be covered in the next 12 months, including synthetic life, systems biology, the biochemistry of food, marine biology and gut metabolism. The deadline is 15th December 2010; contact editorial@biochemistry.org to register interest.

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